Creating a safe haven for vulnerable children

2017-04-12 06:02
PHOTO: nokuthula khanyileMagrate Thembile Qali's smile and warmth welcomes vulnerable children at Ekujabuleni Child and Youth Care Centre.

PHOTO: nokuthula khanyileMagrate Thembile Qali's smile and warmth welcomes vulnerable children at Ekujabuleni Child and Youth Care Centre.

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THE plight of orphans and vulnerable children has become a passion for Magrate Thembile Qali who maintains the day-to-day running of the Ekujabuleni Child and Youth Care Centre in Edendale.

The 80-year-old retired professional nurse with more than 40 years’ experience is known for her big smile and warm personality and is referred to as “Ma” .

She says it is her loving nature and staunch Christian upbringing that makes her job easy and she has taken care of 45 children between the ages of one and 17.

She treats each child as her own and is committed to providing rehabilitation and education for them so that they may one day, lead productive lives.

“We provide shelter for children who have been put in our care by an order of the court. The children in this facility have been abandoned or neglected by their parents, abused or come from families that cannot provide life amenities because of unemployment or other related reasons.”

Qali originally from Sobantu said it was through her experience in paediatric nursing at Edendale Hospital that she developed a special love for caring for children.

“I’m very passionate about community development and working with children and the youth. The greatest satisfaction I get from this job is seeing these children, some who have been sexually abused receiving the needed counselling and getting an education and rising above their circumstances.”

Qali started managing the centre in 2012 after she was approached by the board.

“We try to create a homely space for the children so they feel loved and wanted. When they come back from school I always make sure I’m around to receive them - I play the mother figure.”

She said they encourage the children to participate in school activities and church programmes to stimulate and challenge them.

“We also try to teach them the basics that are usually taught at home. We encourage the older ones to do small house chores under supervision on weekends. I always say this is not a hospital, it is their home and therefore they must be active in keeping their space neat.”

Qali said their biggest challenge is making sure the centre has sufficient funds to cover all the expenses.

“We rely on public funding and we also use grant money to cover the necessary expenditure for clothes, holidays like Christmas, birthday parties, food, salaries for staff and other home maintenance necessities.”

Qali encouraged the black community to consider adoption to decrease the number of orphaned children.

“There are many children who will enjoy being part of a family through adoption, but there is resistance from black communities where “stranger” adoption is not a cultural norm. It’s also sad that extended families don’t consider taking these children in, that spirit of Ubuntu in our communities is gone.”

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